Ghent station renovations will build Europe’s largest bike parking
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    Ghent station renovations will build Europe’s largest bike parking

    The planned new Sint-Pieters station, showing the new roof with solar panels covering all the open platforms © Stad Gent

    The city of Ghent has unveiled its plans for the second stage of renovations to the Gent-Sint-Pieters railway station, including a roof over the platforms and the largest cycle parking in Europe.

    Gent-Sint-Pieters is the busiest railway station in Flanders, and outside of the three main stations in Brussels, the busiest in the country, with some 60,000 passengers passing through every day.

    One stage of renovation works has already taken place, but the second stage was stopped a year ago when the original plans turned out to be too expensive. When the rail authority SNCB balked at the cost of covering the platforms, it decided to go without, a decision that former mayor Daniel Termont could not accept. Without the city’s approval, the plans were shelved. Now, however, the new mayor Matthias De Clercq and new SNCB CEO Sophie Dutordoir have reached a compromise.

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    Those plans involved covering all of the platforms with a glass roof, but that pushed the cost far over budget. Now, however, another type of roof has been substituted, covering all platforms other than those – platforms 9 to 12 inclusive – which are already covered. The new roof will be covered with solar panels to help offset the cost.

    The station already has an enormous parking space for bicycles, but the new replacement will, says the city, be the largest in Europe, with space for 17,000 bicycles – 4,000 more than originally planned, and many more than the runner-up: the bike shelter completed last year in Utrecht in the Netherlands with 12,500 spaces. The Ghent shelter will involve double-level parking, with bikes parked above bikes.

    Renovations to the station have now been going on for a decade, and the new works should start in the summer of 2021. The NMBS said it is working towards a completion date of 2027.

    Mayor De Clercq said the new agreement was “an especially constructive cooperation.”
    “The plans for the renovations have been steered in a good direction,” he said. “we are getting more station for the same money. We had pressed on pause, taken the time to make the plans better, but now we are moving forward again. That’s proof that the Ghent approach works: if it’s no good, we give our opinion, but then we look together for solutions.”

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times